Destinations

Rottnest Island Authority responds to quokka allegations

Ali Coulton

Never did we think one tiny animal would create so many stories for TW.

We’re certainly not complaining though.

Last week, WA’s Tourism Minister Paul Papalia touted the tourism appeal of the insanely adorable quokkas of Rottnest Island after announcing a huge two-year plan to boost tourism numbers in the state.

We found this a little unsettling, given the current backlash against animal tourism, particularly animal selfies so we spoke to Ben Pearson,  Senior Campaign Manager for World Animal Protection who said he would have liked the minister to expand on his comments:

“The concern we have is when people actually handle the animals, so for example, if what the tourism minister means is that hoards of tourists will descend on the quokkas, pick them up, handle them, pass them around, then that’s obviously not ok,” he told us.

You can read all about it here.

Michelle Reynolds, executive director of Rottnest Island Authority (RIA) got in touch with us to let us know what RIA is doing to protect the quokkas from tourists.

“The RIA takes seriously its responsibility to protect the quokka population on the island and there are significant penalties for people who interfere with native flora and fauna,” she said.

When asked about reports of people kicking quokkas or mishandling them, Reynolds said these incidents should be treated as an infrequent occurrence.

“There have been no recent incidents of people harming quokkas in that manner,” she said.

“The most recent occurred at the start of last year and was dealt with appropriately through the courts.”

“There is lots of signage around the Reserve educating visitors about proper interactions with quokkas, and RIA Rangers do patrol the reserve and we encourage all to call the Rangers if they need support.”

“Protecting an A Class Reserve takes a community effort and we appreciate all the community does to assist us in looking after the Island and its quokkas.”

Reynolds said she does not agree with the message displayed on Instagram, waring those who search for animal selfies that the content they are looking for might encourage harm to animals.

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“The Instagram block notice is unhelpful in that it doesn’t serve to educate or inform about our conservation efforts or direct people to how they might develop a better understanding of this native species.”


Do you have something to say on this? Get in touch with Travel Weekly Editors here to share your thoughts. 



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